tv U.S. Senate CSPAN January 22, 2013 5:00pm-8:00pm EST
trailer for the next six months, you're interested in this. because in the old days, when katrina happened, all people were given were trailers and, in some instances, with formaldehyde in them which made it for a lovely and very healthy way to live for six months, madam president. we don't want to go over the nightmares of what happened after katrina and rita, but we decided that we have to give our citizens some other options other than trailers. so if something would happen in massachusetts, your governors and your local officials could come together and maybe be a little bit creative and thinking about some rental repairs where people could move into some of the blighted properties that will also help with the blight. instead of spending $120,000 per trailer, maybe we could do a little investment in some blight reduction, also giving people a temporary place to live. that's smart. i think taxpayers appreciate
when we try to spend their money in a wiser, built-to-last kind of way. that's what the sandy supplemental allows. it also allows the state to draw down a portion of its hazard mitigation funding from fema in order to leverage mitigation opportunities earlier in the construction process. in the old days, it would take 18-36 months for funding to become available in some instances to rebuild a school. that's too long. can you imagine a community going three years, you know, without even getting their school started? i mean, i realize that sometimes it takes a long time to build things, but you don't want to just wait three years before you start. so the way that we do it now without spending any more money, it's just allowing them to -- the federal government to push out some of the front money to the locals, they can then get started and of course they will reimburse the federal government. so that is a very smart reform that's in there.
in addition, we also provide grants on the basis of a reliable fixed estimate for expedited removal of storm debris. this approach will be faster, cheaper and more effective. public assistance programs as currently designed may be the most dysfunctional program in the entire federal government, will not work for this disaster. under the current approach, initial damage estimates are often incomplete, projects must be reversioned multiple times, decisions are often not made in writing. and let me just put this in english. what this means is in the old days when katrina hit, sometimes fema -- and people are not going to believe when i say this, but it is true and i will put this in the record so people can go find it, but in the old days, we would almost have to take pictures of a tree to determine how wide the branch was, because
if it's four inches, you get reimbursed and if it's eight inches, you don't or something like that. and we would have to go take pictures of trees where the debris comes down to try to get the paperwork necessary for the reimbursement, okay? these days are hopefully over with. we now do kind of an estimate, just like any normal, rational person would do. you know in past storms how much debris is usually -- you can sort of measure that. there are ways not just subjective but objective ways without having to take pictures of limbs on trees, which is a complete waste of time and wholly irrational, and of course survivors that are standing there without a house, without libraries wonder why government officials are going around taking pictures of shrubs. so we need to move past that. hopefully we are with some of this legislation. number four, codifies temporary legislative measures that were enacted to facilitate smarter
recovery, including third-party arbitration, eliminating penalties on alternative projects and consolidating facilities into a single project. this was my most important thing, and i'd like to take a minute to explain, madam president, to you and to everyone. after a while, after katrina, which was a nightmare, i kept wondering why these project work sheets were never getting settled because we would send thousands of these work sheets to the federal government and say okay, if this was our library, we estimate that it costs $5 million to rebuild it. the federal government would say no, we think it was $2.5 million, that's all we owe you. so i said i understand, there can be a disagreement here, who resolves it? no one. i said what do you mean no one? no one. it just keeps going around and around and around and we keep sending paper back. is there any timeline for the
resolution? no. is there any third-party arbitrator? no. so we have put a third-party arbitrator in so that if a project is disagreed by the locals about what was there, what it looked like, how they should rebuild it, we now have a rational way to step in and get a decision, and it is a nonnegotiable -- you know, you can't appeal it, but it's better than not having a decision, and the local governments really support this, and i'm happy we could get that done. in addition, this was one of my favorites, everybody would run around giving press conferences about how we were going to build smarter and stronger and better, et cetera, except when we looked in the law and actually read the law, it was illegal because if you tried to move a police station like ten feet to get it out of the way of the river or the land had sunk and you wanted to move it to higher ground, you
would actually be penalized 25% because it would fall under an alternative project because it wasn't the exact same. so i said we don't want to build the exact same. that was the problem to begin with. some of our buildings were in places they shouldn't have been. some of our buildings were built with materials we should never have used, so why are we having to rebuild the same old thing? well, because that's what the law says. they said the law needs to be changed, we have changed it. so i hope people while they fuss at government, and i know we have a lot of things to do to get things straight, i want people to know that a lot of thought has gone into some of these reforms based on real-life experiences of what communities have gone through. hopefully the northwest -- the northeast will benefit from this as we go forward. let me just put a few more things in the record. number five, it allows families to use fema individual
assistance for childcare expenses. this was another thing that we found. you know, we do depend on individual citizens to rebuild their communities, trust me. the federal government may send a lot of money, but they didn't come gut houses. you know who gut the houses? the churches helped, the volunteers helped, and seniors, many veterans who had fought the war in the greatest generation that saw their homes completely -- they at 80 years old put on gloves and their overalls again and gutted their own houses. and when i mean gutted, i mean take your house down to the studs. it's a hard thing to do. not only is it physically hard, it's emotionally devastating. the federal government did not come in and gut people's houses. we had to gut our houses by ourselves after we sorted our debris by e.p.a. requirements and h.u.d. requirements and this, dragged it out to the sidewalk and made sure it didn't
touch a part of the lawn because if it did, they couldn't pick it up, because you can't go on private property to pick up debris, it's a nightmare. but anyway, this is going to be fixed because parents and grandparents need to get back to gut their homes. they have got to have a place for their kids to go that's safe. you can't have children running around in dangerous places. and so people aren't thinking about this in a recovery, but schools have to be up and running, and you really should be able to use some of this money for daycare so that the parents can work. some of them quit their jobs to go rebuild their homes. they live off their savings and they go back to work. it's a tough situation, but i'm happy and i want to really thank mark schreiber and save the children who led this initiative, trying to help us focus on the storms of the future, what we could do better to help children, you know, making sure that their needs are cared for because we think about
adults but of course most of these families have kids, sometimes young children. we have done a little bit, i wish we could have done more, but we negotiated the best we could and at least we got the childcare provision in. let me just say quickly, it also helps the environment by incentivizing recycling of debris so if we can find a way to recycle it, then you get paid a little bit more as opposed to just throwing it in a landfill as we think that will be a good opportunity to try to promote some new technologies for recycling, and it also corrects -- this is very important -- a gap in current law that prohibited tribal governments from requesting federal assistance. they were completely prohibited under the former law, and really as a matter of fair policy and the federal law, tribes should be able to request some assistance as well, and that was corrected in this piece of legislation. it also and finally eliminates a perverse incentive in the law to
use high-priced contract labor for emergency work instead of local government employees such as firefighters and police officers, which should save the federal government millions of dollars. so i want to thank in closing all of the different organizations that helped to pass this. the u.s. conference of mayors, the national league of cities, the national association of county organizations, international association of emergency managers, international association of firefighters, association of fire chiefs and the association of flood plain managers. you know, this is not a subject that's always fun to talk about because when you are talking about it, it's a lot of suffering that is going on, whether it's joplin, missouri, or gulfport, mississippi, or new orleans, louisiana, or new york, new york, or the boardwalk in new jersey and many of those small -- not-so-small beach
communities, very highly populated in that area, there is a lot of suffering, but it is important for us to try to when we can and we see that the response is not what it should be, madam president, to take the time to push out some reforms, to fix what we can fix so that the $60 billion that i hope we will send to them can be used smartly, quickly, efficiently. and i am a living proof as a senator that has had to literally help lead the rebuilding of the gulf coast along with my friends from texas and mississippi and florida, and living proof as my hometown is new orleans, my brother is now the mayor and he's rebuilding that city every day. 80% of the residential communities on the east bank were destroyed completely. i mean, that would be like 80% of the district of columbia but not anacostia, but 80%, which would be the whole other side of d.c. on this side of the river
being uninhabitable. i mean, it's hard for people to get their head around the scale. and i think for massachusetts, you have experienced some of these storms, but the scale and the scope of the loss is hard to get your head around. and even though it's not on the 5:00 news or the 6:00 news or the 10:00 news or now 24-hour news now, it's still happening. and so this money and these reforms are important. so i'm glad -- i hope that the senate will act quickly this week. we may have to take up a few amendments from the minority. we've already had the debate about offsets and we've decided that in the middle of the battle, you don't have to argue about who is going to pay for the bullets. you need to go ahead and send the money, we'll figure out how to pay for it later. we're going to pay for it. it's not a question of whether it's going to be paid. it will be paid for. we should not be arguing about that while the water is rising, a lot of people are gutting their homes or worshiping in tents along the beach.
they need their churches back, they need their communities back and we need to send the money and the tools to help them with the recovery. so i just again thank so many colleagues for helping with this, particularly senator lieberman and senator collins who led a lot of these efforts through their oversight of the homeland security and fema, and my colleague -- my colleagues on my appropriations committee on homeland security. thank you, madam president, and i yield the floor. and just one minute. let me see. they're giving me something. madam president, i ask unanimous consent the period of morning business be extended until 6:00 p.m. today and that all provisions of the previous order remain in effect. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. ms. landrieu: thank you.
quorum call: mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. durbin: sciewns the senate proceed to a period of morning business with senators permit permit -- permitted permitted. i ask unanimous consent that the proceedings of the inaugural ceremony be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. durbin: i understand there are two bills at the desk. i ask for their first reading en bloc. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the titles of the bills en bloc. the clerk: s. 47, a bill to reauthorize the violence against women act of 1994. h.r. 152, an act making supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending september
30, 2013, to improve and streamline disaster assistance for hurricane sandy and for other purposes. mr. durbin: i ask for a second reading en bloc and i object to my own request en bloc. the presiding officer: o'is heard. the bills will be read for the second time on the next legislative day. mr. durbin: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business it recess until 9:30 a.m. on wednesday, january 23, 2013, that following the prayer and pledge, the journal be approved to date, the time for the leaders reserved for use later in the day, following any leader remarks the senate be in pared of morning business for debate only until 12:00 p.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. durbin: if there is no further business to come before the senate i ask that it recess under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands in recess until senate stands in recess until
>> 1,364 days since democrats last brought a budget to the senate floor. many of our colleagues don't even remember going through the budget committee, offering amendments in debating a budget. unfortunately, our national debt now which exceeds $16 trillion, $52,000 for every man, woman, and child in america demonstrates the failure of that policy, if you can call it that. i want to congratulate the house for directing people's attention to the failure of the senate and the leader to bring up a budget to the floor. i think the appropriate sanction is no budget, no pay. that's just me talking. i believe that is -- that sends a good message. everybody in america understands the importance in passing or having a budget. family, small-business, and
certainly they understand that that is one of the causes of the pro-government continuing to spend money does not have, borrowing about $0.40 of every dollar that it does spend and mortgaging our children's future. so thanks to the house of representatives for bringing this to the country's attention. we look for taking up the budget here in the senate and having a vigorous debate over america's future. >> we were reminded yesterday that this is a liberal president with the liberal agenda, which is why the word spending and that probably were not included in that speech. we happen to believe the biggest threat to america's future is runaway government spending, debt that we are piling on the backs of future generations of americans, and it is hard to believe, as my colleagues have noted, that has been almost four years at the united states and has acted on a budget. if you can believe this, ipads
did not exist the last time the senate passed a budget. they came around in april of 2010. the senate has not acted on a budget since april of 2009. we hope the president will focus on what is really important to the future of this country and what is important to the american people, and that is the need for a sustainable fiscal path toward to my growing economy pump -- policies that will promote job creation and growth. those of the things we're anxious to work on. we have heard very little of. >> on election night the president spoken said, well, we want our children to grow up in a world where they're not burdened by debt. in december the president said spending is in the problem. incredible, incredible deficit reduction plan in the united states to be downgraded.
the greatest threat to our national security was our debt. so democrats in the senate are now going to have to make a choice. today agree with the president that spending is not a problem or do they agree with their constituents at home who are focused on the fact that they are burdening our children and grandchildren with a mountain of debt of varying -- burying them under that mountain of debt. it's a step back from wyoming where people continue to beat very concerned and anxious about the debt and realizing, not for them, but for their kids and grandkids to the chance for freedom and opportunity has listened as the debt continues to increase. >> i want to mention two things that were up to your concern. we start a new presidential term. one was the announcement of the obama campaign essentially going
to transition to a not-for-profit to do the same thing that the campaign did. they did not produce the kind of results that the president would want to produce. seems to me he has doubled down on the strategy of the last four years. over the weekend one of the spokespeople for the president said that we -- our system really doesn't lend itself to solving problems. if the president of the united states has given up on the system, that is a bad sign. we need to work together. i did not hear a lot of that in the speech. i thought the speech yesterday was quite a bit to the left of a number of my democratic colleagues in the senate. we need to move toward solutions that can happen rather than talk about things that can't possibly be achieved if we are going to solve the problems the country faces. >> i think the greatest responsibility we have,
certainly as does elected officials is to make certain that the american dream can be lived by those who follow us. in my view the greatest threat we have to be able to pursue the american dream in america and deficit. we have no choice but to deal with this issue. it will be thought of as irresponsible to not raise the debt ceiling. in my view, it is irresponsible to raise the debt ceiling in the absence of changing the way that we do business here, starting with the approval of the budget. thought to be compassionate to spend money. how can it be compassionate to spend money that is not yours? and for our country to have growth and economic opportunity, there is no question but what the debt and deficit is a drag on that opportunity. we have a responsibility as american citizens to right this wrong. >> i serve on the senate budget committee, and i can tell you,
the most disappointing part of having served your the last two years is relatively new member, we have not done a budget for this country in the senate. it is incredibly disappointing. the senate democrats have not been willing to do the budget will we are over $16 trillion in debt. no the talk about the fact that the ipad has come into existence during the nearly four years that we have not had a budget. i happen to have a five year-old son. and so nearly most of his lifetime we have not had a budget for this country because of the failure of the democrats in the senate to do that, to get down and to prioritize spending. when i think about that, i know it is about him because if we can do a budget for this country and we can prioritize spending and have a fiscal blueprint to make sure that we get ourselves on irresponsible past, it is about all of us to my five year-old son, every child in this nation, what future in opportunities they will have in
this great country. >> we will take a couple of questions. >> let me reiterate what i think is pretty clear to everyone. new year's eve, taxes as a practical matter when up for everyone in the country at midnight. the senate republicans and subsequently a majority of the house voted to make 99 percent of the bush tax cuts permanent, thereby preventing another event like new year's eve. that came about because the law sunset it. we now have achieved permanency for 99 percent of the american people on tax issues.
i would venture to say there is not a single republican vote in the house or senate to provide more revenue. the reason for that is we know revenue is not the problem. the president has been able to give all the revenue he wanted by raising taxes on everyone making above 200,250,000 per couple. it barely been able to operate the government for about eight days. this is not a revenue problem. this is a spending problem. yes. the revenue issue is behind us. whenever new taxes the president is going to get, he got. the operation of law. and we are now going to focus on the real problems which is not the we tax too little, but spend too much. yes, that is where we are. >> a convention of the debt limit. passion an extension?
he thinks the republicans are going to support raising the debt ceiling? >> a couple of thoughts about the debt ceiling in general. it has been used over 20 times since the 1950's. to give you some incidences, you will remember the 1997 clinton republican congress deficit reduction package. in the 1980's gramm-rudman was attached to the debt ceiling. and in august of 2011 the budget control act was attached to the debt ceiling. so it has been quite the norm to use presidential requests to raise the debt ceiling to do something about a deficit and debt. they called on senate democrats to run the senate to follow the regular water. the debt ceiling can originate in either house. the senate finance committee
could generate a debt ceiling proposal. they could do it clean if they wanted to. they could try and embrace some spending reductions. but i think what the house is saying above all else is that they are hoping to act as soon as maybe tomorrow. then it will be incumbent upon the senate democratic majority the function. what is their idea? cleaned with attachments to it as has frequently been the case as the 1950's. we look forward to seeing what senate democrats recommend. we look for dissing with senate democrats recommend. this time for them to function. [inaudible question]
>> well, as all of you know, the majority in the senate will determine whether it's in this. i am sure we would be happy to take a look at whatever the majority leader decides to try to bring forward to the full senate related to gun control. we will be happy to take a look at whether the senate majority decides to bring out on to the floor. >> the substance of the president's inaugural. react to the substance of the president's inaugural address, what you thought of it. >> well, i think the president's inaugural address was disappointing in the sense that it was basically a liberal agenda. directed at an america that we still believe his center-right. i don't think that is a great way to start off a second term if your idea year is to achieve
bipartisan solutions. second, i think it was quite disturbing, the short shrift given to the transcendent issue of our era spending and debt. thanks. >> welcome back, everyone. the caucus was great. the first time we have had a sit-down together as a group to discuss our agenda for the coming months. it really was exciting to see all of these new senators. we now have more female members.
as we deal with each event democrats are guided by a single principle, do what we can to protect the middle-class. this is a clear distinction that has emerged between democrats and republicans over the last several years. the american public knows they're on their side. as we begin this congress we are very aware of the enormous trust the people have placed in us and the responsibility that goes with that. so i hope in the coming months we can do with the american people expect us to do and improve the daily lives of everyday americans. i had a meeting with the republican leader today. he had his caucus first. that will be the first item of business. long overdue. i am hopeful and cautiously
optimistic that we can do something on a very soon. [inaudible question] >> everybody here, any questions you have on the budget, patty murray is the question to ask. i have not had time to sit down and talk in any detail. i will do that this evening with my staff and her staff, but in the meantime. what did you say? yes. the house. budget bill. the ceiling. very glad that they sent us a clean -- they're going to send us a clean debt ceiling bill. the other stuff on it, we will approach that we need to.
[inaudible question] >> i call during the recess how impressed i was with his speech. here is a person everyone knows. second amendment's right guy. but in the speech it was very for cleaning and indicated there had to be more done on background checks. he said specifically -- i'm paraphrasing, but not much. there was no reason to have multiples cells. so anyway, this is an issue that we're not going to run from. it is an issue we need to talk about. and so i hope we can do is have
a bill reported out of the committee. may not be everything everyone wants, but i hope it has the stuff and that is really important and i expect to have a free amendment process on the floor. [inaudible question] >> my response to that is the same response that i give this gentleman here. i am happy they sent us a debt ceiling with not tied said entitlement cuts and dollar for dollar. so that is a big step in the right direction. the other stuff on it, going to be the spokesperson on that for the next 24 hours or so. we will see how she wants to proceed. she is an experienced legislator , chairman of the super committee. i have great faith in her. >> the counterparts in the department.
newspapers across the country. a liberal speech. a liberal agenda directed at the center right. >> a liberal speech. i really don't know what that means. i listened to the speech. so cold. it was i sister did. i thought it was a really good speech. people can criticize about a lot of things, but not the ability to communicate. i think he communicated the american people the message of hope, the message of action. i liked it very much. we should move past the name-calling face. one last question over here. i have had some meetings with
senator mcconnell bought for the recess, during the recess. our staff work on this. we had another meeting today. i hope within the next 44-36 hours we can get something that we agree on. if not, were going to move forward, i think needs to be done. the caucus will support me on that. [inaudible question] >> tell me what you mean. [inaudible question] >> as a question better than they can. okay. i'm glad the debt ceiling is not an issue that we need to address now. the debt ceiling is that guy to kick in for a while. we have many months of work through this. senator murray is going to be my
lead and the budget. senator baucus is going to be my lead in the debt ceiling. [inaudible question] >> secretary of state hillary clinton will be on capitol hill tomorrow to testify about the attack. before the senate foreign relations committee in the morning at 9:00 eastern. he is to the other side of the capital to testify before the house floor about the benghazi attack. live coverage of both hearings. and president obama nomination to replace secretary of state clinton massachusetts senator john kerry who was on capitol hill on thursday about his qualifications to the secretary of state live thursday morning
it's an:00 eastern on c-span. senator john mccain calls for opposition forces and syria. the called -- >> the bipartisan group that just returned from a trip to the middle east. he remains in afghanistan during his active duty as a colonel. we hope that if he is not held hostage -- some of this subsidy is. duff i'm pleased to be joined with my colleagues, both democrats and republicans who he travels to egypt, afghanistan,
jordan, and israel. a man with a broader array of people. also had an opportunity to engage directly on the matter of syria. meeting in egypt with a new president and key leaders of the syrian opposition coalition and to visit the refugee camp in jordan. of one to give my colleagues an opportunity to speak for themselves, and we'll look forward to taking your questions on every aspect of our trip. the main reason why we convened this press conferences to talk about syria. one of the bay nereus been the democrats and republicans, the need for the united states to do more to help the syrian people in their struggle for freedom. from syrian opposition leaders and refugees we heard a very consistent message, the longer this conflict goes the worse it gets for syria the region and
indeed the world with increasing numbers of restrainers flowing into a fight, becoming marginalized with a growing possibility of total state billion and the increasing risk of chemical or biological weapons being used and with refugees fleeing syria in exponentially greater numbers which threatens the stability of serious neighbors. we heard desperate pleas for u.s. support and assistance. a desire for weapons and ammunition for a no-fly zone and for our government to channel humanitarian assistance that is providing, not to international ngos, as the administration is currently doing, but rather directly through the syrian opposition coalition which would strengthen its legitimacy and capacity. but perhaps most alarmingly we heard of this role frustration and outright anger, especially from the refugees about the
inadequate level of u.s. support and assistance for their struggle against the al assad regime. one syrian woman who was a member of the council of the camp that we visited in jordan was a teacher. she was doing everything she could to educate the many children in the camp. many of the syrian children have not gone -- have now gone two years knowing little else but war and misery and homelessness, losing friends and families and the ideal pray for radicals. this woman warned us that the syrian children and her words would seek revenge on those that did not help syria in its hour of greatest need. conflict has gone now for nearly two years. many americans assumed that by now a sun would have left power in the violence would have ended. it is not. 60,000 people are dead, and there is no end in sight.
there is a dire need to restart the conversation and the congress across the country about america's role and responsibility in helping the syrian people. at eight of us would agree that at the center of this conversation is the realization that the indiscriminate and escalating use of airpower is one factor among all others that enables them to continue this onslaught against the syrian people. if you wish to be relevant to the conflict we must have a serious debate about how responsible nations could prevent us of from massacring his own people with fighter jets and helicopter gunships and even scud missiles. just a word about egypt. we had a very spirited meeting with the president of egypt where we told him that the content of the speech a couple of years before basically
attacking israel and making comments which were unacceptable about his role, we would please that some hours after that meeting the president of egypt issued a pretty good statement concerning those remarks. afghanistan continued to be concerned about troop levels and what kind of force would be left behind to help the afghans consolidate the enormous efforts that they have made in obtaining some success over the taliban. they still have many challenges, and in israel we continue to hear the prime minister and most likely remain prime minister serious concern about iranians unimpeded progress toward
nuclear weapons. senator white house. >> thank you all for being here. first and i wanted thank senator mccain for leading this congressional delegation trip. it was our hard-working but a very informative and useful trip . there are, for a number of issues, we engaged during this trip that we will continue to work on after the trip. the issue that brings us together today for this particular press conference is the situation in syria. i think many of us hope that the aside regime fairly rapidly and that there could be a more less orderly transition to a new government. it appears that the situation in syria is getting increasingly dire hand it appears that the
aside administration is dug-in pretty hard. and so there is a real danger of the warfare prolonging and while it prolongs having the syrian state devolve into potentially ethnically cleansing enclaves and a huge vacuum left ford to heidi's and extremists to launch attacks from. so i think we are unanimous in our consent for that. i think we also agreed in the strong and bipartisan fashion that we need to do more in the way of recognition of the syrian opposition elements and the free syrian army, and we need to make
sure that there is both adequate humanitarian relief getting into syria and that the opposition groups that have a significant role in the distribution of that material for the reason that senator mccain identified, the reason of legitimizing them and giving them authority and credibility as they fight for their freedom. on the jordanian border we visited a refugee camp where the night before more than 2,000 syrian refugees have crossed the border in order to find refuge. since that camp was set up the influx of refugees has been ahead of the capacity of the camp to deal with them. they're catching up, working hard. one tech criticized for, but it is just coming very fast. and foreseeable situations could provoke a very substantial
increases in that flood of refugees and lead to a humanitarian crisis along the border. in addition to agreeing that we need to do more in the way of recognition and humanitarian aid support through the syrian opposition, we also agree that we need to be front loading a more robust humanitarian effort in jordan and making sure that our very good friends in jordan have the resources that they need so that in at time of relative economic difficulty in jordan they're not being called on to put enormous amounts of resources into solving this problem. everything from goggles for the jordanian troops along the border because the refugees are coming over tonight the loan guarantees and to a coordinated international support to prepare for a larger number of refugees
as time goes on. so again, i am very pleased that we have the chance to a make this trip. i think in congratulate senator mccain again for leading the delegation and i will turn it over now test the senator from new hampshire >> thank you. i wanted thank senators mccain and white house for leading this bipartisan delegation. i very much appreciated for the opportunity to go out on such an important trip to the middle east with all of my colleagues, including so that -- senator gillibrand who was with us where we were in egypt as well. i deeply appreciate the commitment of my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to making sure that we do what we can to help the syrian people in a time of need. and this was a very crucial time to be in the middle east. as senator mccain outlined, not only with our meeting with president morrissey, but also to
meet with our commanders on the ground in afghanistan. in syria more than 60,000 people have died in this conflict. women and children have been killed by the regime. the forces have been targeting bakeries killing civilians and also obviously trying to interrupt their food supply for the civilian population. we certainly heard and not only are meeting with the syrian national coalition, the opposition coalition, but also in our meeting with those at the refugee camps that a side is sustaining his support not just from within but also continuing to receive support from russia and brought. it is very, very important that we continue to put pressure on russia in particular to stop providing arms to the assad regime to murder his people because the end result is we are
continuing to see a stalemate in this situation in syria prolonging this conflict and for the resulting in a civilian deaths. when we met in egypt for the syrian opposition council leaders, they expressed deep concern about the involvement. brabant -- on a bipartisan basis one of the requests that the syrian opposition coalition made from us is that they be the recipient of humanitarian aid and, in fact, we are working on a letter to the president asking that this assistance, humanitarian assistance be provided to this coalition has legitimate leaders of the syrian opposition. in fact, senator gillibrand two is not here today, will be
working and is a signatory to that. they ask for greater humanitarian support, not only because there are the representatives of the syrian people who are seeking to overthrow the assad regime, but it is also very important that we provide continued legitimacy in our recognition of the syrian opposition coalition that they be the recipients. it is so needed right now for the syrian people of food, blankets, fuel, the basic needs when they are under fire by this horrible regime. and so i am very proud to stand with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis for this support. as senator mccain mentioned, i was particularly struck by a meeting with the refugees at the refugee camp. every single refugee we met with had lost relatives that were
either killed or injured by the assad regime. the statement that the teacher may was particularly compelling given her role with children. displaced by the conflict. in fact, we saw some many of the children at the refugee camps, and this regime has murdered so many children. it's one of the reasons we need to act more as a country. in addition we heard from meeting with the king of jordan as well as other leaders in the middle east, including the prime minister of israel that it is also critical that we work with our partners to make sure that when the assad regime does fall that we are in a position to secure the chemical weapons, to ensure that those weapons don't get in the wrong hands because that is critical to the security to our own security that those types of weapons to not get in the wrong hands.
we are certainly in a position where i hope that we can work on a bipartisan basis to do more to end this conflict will and to make sure that assad moves permanently and let us not forget the role of a run in this conflict. as a general matter said, if he goes it will be the biggest -- biggest strategic setback to iran in decades. our strategic interest in this region is very important. also, our interest in making sure that more syrians are not murdered by the assad regime is equally as important. so i think -- i want to thank my colleagues for their lead and for the opportunity to be on this important delegation with the. thank you. >> the refugee camp is a desolate place. there are today roughly 42,000 men, women, and children living in makeshift shelters in tents
and in a small trailers making the best life that they can out of an exceptionally difficult circumstance. more than 2,000 syrians every night make their way across the border into jordan and are welcomed with medical care, food, shelter, but it is striking how steadily and have greatly the numbers of refugees both inside syria and crossing the border is sometimes difficult and even dangerous crossing, how those numbers had swelled in both turkey and in jordan. i was grateful for a chance of the beginning of this new congress to join with three republican and four democratic colleagues. i am grateful to senators mccain and white house for leading this and helping us focus on the very well challenges of the united states and the values. as you heard as the outset, we looked at a number of issues from egypt to afghanistan, jordan to israel, and many other or issues on the horizon there
were also part of the conversations that took place on the plane over and back. nothing helps me feel better about the role of the united states and the world at a time when we are so often divided along partisan lines here in washington as to spend time with experienced and senior centers in looking at our challenges in the world. such a we come together around one area of unanimity, not just commonality, but unanimity. termination of the united states will do more to deliver effective, timely humanitarian assistance on the ground for three reasons. first, because the administration has done such great work which culminated in bringing together a credible representative of the syrian people now recognize by the united states as the representative of the syrian people, the opposition council who we met with in cairo and to we found compelling. second, in order to make real on those commitments to begin to deliver humanitarian assistance on the ground in jordan and
hopefully projecting into syria. we are delivering significant humanitarian assistance, but it is going through the international aid agencies and distributed out of damascus rather than in ways that strengthen the credibility and the reach and the effectiveness of the syrian opposition council. last, we need to do more with this humanitarian assistance now to stabilize our value in the region. turkey and jordan. both of homes in difficult economic times at the height of their winters face significant pressures on their own countries and their own economies as a result of their willingness to accept hundreds of thousands of refugees from syria. this is a crisis unfolding slowly in front of us. it very real humanitarian cost us something that we can and should come even in these difficult budget times come together, a democrat and republican to address. i'm glad to join with the others of this delegation in signing a letter to the president and in urging that we make real our pledge of support for the folks
who now represent those seeking freedom inside syria. this was a terrific opera today to confront the challenges that we face in the world and to come together and find a unanimous path toward. >> thank you. i wanted thank senator mccain for leading this trip and demonstrating again not only his strategic vision about the united states role in the world but also his intense compassion and caring for individuals who lives have been torn apart by war. also helping to shape where we went and what we did and his lead. i would defer with senator cohen's only in one word. that is that this crisis is unfolding not slowly. it is accelerating and exploding. there are now 650,000 refugees
or more. 60,000 dead. those numbers are increasing exponentially in the night that we visited the day -- the night of the data we visited, there were between two and 3,000 refugees across the border as opposed to the average thousand the night before. so this problem far from going away or diminishing is actually exploding and increasing. destabilizing the entire region in turkey and jordan by imposing enhanced demands on their resources which the united states has had a historic obligation and opportunity.
>> the children do farmed with dog seek aid ) said want to care for them. these features have been disrupted and changed forever by this war. relatives have been tortured and killed. may not comprehended right now, but their future will be transformed, and our future will be transformed. their future is in distinguishable from lars because. [indiscernible] the extremist and the hottest who will eventually attack the unite states interest. so we have a very direct national interest providing
dramatic and drastic increases dramatic and drastic humanitarian aid increases through the syrian opposition council, not the ngos alone, not the united nations alone, but directly to the syrian people. and we owe it to those children to keep faith with them because the continuation of these trends , mass exodus of refugees, communal violence within syria, the continued torture and killing of syrians that will eventually provoked store selling and retaliation within that country. again, destabilizing the future of the entire middle east. of real-world months that we will read in the united states. so aid that is dramatic and
drastic, certainly appropriate, in the united states interest if we can provide additional aid to the opposition within syria that are in continuous communication support or logistics', that kind of assistance to ought to be considered and provided as appropriate. my hope is that this trip will emphasize to us and to the people of america have direct and immediate our state is in this conflict. struggling mightily and compassionately and to provide habitable and humane facilities for the refugees crossing the border as are the turks in their part of the world. the united states has an obligation to do more, to do it now, to do it dramatically. thank you. >> the state department.
it is going to ngos and for damascus. they are stating categorically that they are not receiving that aid. those that are struggling against the assad regime. >> recognize that syrian opposition council and its coalition has a legitimate voice for the syrian people. and so it is very critical that if we believe in their legitimacy and we certainly do having met with them, that the a goes through them to distribute to the syrian people directly. and as a voice for the syrian
people. so not only but also as senator mccain said, consistent with our policy. >> has only been about six weeks since the agreement that produced this new syrian opposition council. you are hearing from us unanimously is a sense of urgency about shifting our humanitarian aid strategy so that much of it is delivered through them on the ground rather than solely through international ngos. >> thank you. do you have a view on the administration? keeping a political, the solution because still talking to the russians about a process whereby the regime could work together. and are you deemphasizing the opposition? are we seeing the emergence? >> there are unanimous on the issue of getting the aid to the right people on the runway at
the right time. varying degrees of support here and each of us to speak for themselves. i believe more than ever that we need to give them weapons and we need to of established a no-fly zone. it is very clear that air power is the major asset that assad has basically a little country in maintaining its ability to maintain the stalemated situation or certainly a very slow process. all my colleagues have varying different degrees there. they are unanimous on the issue of these people not being, receiving the aid that obviously the american people think is going. there is no constituent of hours to is against this humanitarian effort, and it is not happening . >> also unanimous on the importance of the military support from the opposition and
the more the house and the wind that are the differences among yes. >> i will save, i certainly, prior to this trip i fully support us harming the free syrian army. at think it is very important that they have the tools. we need to be engaged. one of the concerns, the longer this thing goes on the more it gives the opportunities for extremists to have more control than we would have. rita wanted to have any control, and they are. so i think that our engagement is still very important. still -- it would make a huge difference now. prior to this i wanted to understand more, but i would support a no-fly zone. i believe that as we did, if we would do that i believe this would end much center.
in a way that we could make sure that we stunt the growth and extremism in syria. >> senator white house has put it correctly. at think we are all in agreement that more needs to be done to assist militarily the opposition within syria as to how and when it should be done. the fall of the saab was thought to be imminent a year-ago, and clearly now he is using his air force for nothing more than the slaughter and massacre of his own people. the united states ought to be finding a way to other disarm or deflect or somehow diminish the power, and we are going to be grappling with those kinds of issues.
>> the point that you raised, the diplomatic strategy of pulling together and recognizing and effective opposition council was a vital contribution to moving this forward. but i join my colleagues and saying, i also believe we have to then give that syrian opposition council legitimacy but delivering direction in military assistance. where we might differ is on exactly the tactics, the means, weapons, timing. frankly, all of us see that the fighters are gaining more and more ground, more and more visibility and credibility in the ongoing fight against assad and the united states has a shrinking window to make a real difference on the ground in the fight for freedom in syria and in the fight to sustain and stabilize our vital region. >> we will said. [inaudible question] >> senator hegel and i are old friends and we had a very frank and candid conversation, and i
will be looking forward to the hearing and asking questions. should be given the opportunity before many of us make a judgment. >> direct your concerns. >> well, we discussed my concerns. we will be talking more about them in the hearing. >> going back to the. [inaudible question] we will was some of the feedback you got on the plan for afghanistan?
>> i will let my colleague discuss our meeting with president karzai. i think that the understanding of the urgency of the situation in syria. that is why we're here. and as senator blumenthal very eloquently stated, greater and greater participation and leaders are being exercised by the wrong people. the best fighters. that is just the fact. and more and more of them are pouring in from literally all over the world, not just the arab world, but all over the world. that lends urgency, and it is indisputable that the iranians and the russians are providing massive amounts of arms and aid. in fact, there on the ground. that is why we are more than willing to consider it, ways
that we can help them defend themselves. as i say, it is not an exact science, but the exact anonymity. it is a fair fight. >> at the meeting that we had in cairo yen one of the leaders of the syrian opposition spoke with immense and compelling pride about syria's tradition as a country the was open to varying faiths. i saw that first and myself from an earlier trip. went to the jewish temple in damascus. and he described his country as a garden of flowers with different representations from different religions and all valued together.
so against that contract they are suspicious of, unhappy with the edgy hottest sentiment behind other groups. at the same time when you are fighting for your life, when your family members are being massacred and tortured, when your children are being torn apart and bomb explosions, the people who are fighting beside you require legitimacy. and it is important that we be involved enough to not only offset but overwhelmed that legitimacy that the extremist groups are obtaining. if we think back to our own history, 225 years ago we were country with an internal war for independence to drive